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#560 - 02/09/01 08:07 AM Repair or Installation?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
In another thread I've mentioned a panel change from an FPE to a GE.

In this particular installation, the plumbers installed the water heater almost directly in front of the panel, enough to bust working clearances, but not enough to keep the door from being opened 90 degrees.
This happened 22 years ago. I reiterate that the panel was there FIRST.

It had dawned on me AFTER I had bid the job that I may have to move the panel to pass the inspection. So after calling the inspector to ask his opinion (always the best option) he says that the WH has to be five feet away from the panel which would require one of the two to be in a different room! I can't find anything in the Code to back this up...

My argument is that the panel change is NOT an upgrade ( say from 100A to 200A) but rather a "repair" (replacement) of an existing panel. If the inspector wishes to thwart the work by giving the customer a reason to feel that he/she can't afford to do "all that", then are we giving justice to the intention of the Code? (Safety)

Just where is the line for grandfathering -in old work? This house has no GFCI's and no dedicated 20A kitchen or bath circuits, etc. has 60C wire and a three-wire cable feeding the range. Where does it stop? Do I have to rewire the whole house for my original bid of $350???

The inspector agreed to let it slide "this time" but has gave me a warning for the future...

And I'm considering becoming an inspector....Hmmmmm

A panel is usually installed well before a water heater in construction, so who is reponsible for busting the clearance code?
Plumbers can really screw with a sparky's bids by placing their crap in front of our panels when we're the one's blamed for it...

[This message has been edited by sparky66wv (edited 02-09-2001).]
_________________________
-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#561 - 02/09/01 04:08 PM Re: Repair or Installation?
sparky Offline
Member

Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5545
That term "grandfathered" , or "existing" is used a lot. It's interpertation is as wide as the atlantic.

Situations as bad as any in the photo's sections are given this label.

Inasmuch as other trades know mine as much as i know thiers, i do not wish to be held accountable for thier interventions.

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#562 - 02/09/01 05:00 PM Re: Repair or Installation?
Tom Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1069
Loc: Shinnston, WV USA
'66

Find yoursaelf another inspector. I think you live & work too far from me for me to help you.

If your inspector cannot cite a specific reference, he may be blowing smoke.

As far as grandfathering is concerned, if conditions have changed since the original installation (water heater conflict), bring it up to code. If it didn't meet code to begin with (sometimes hard to know what was in the NEC 30 or 40 years ago) bring it up to code. Basically, if it isn't safe, just being in place & in use is no excuse, bring it up to code.

By the way, the inspection that is required by Allegheny Power ends at the service disconnect or the main disconnect inside a mobile or modular home or the sub panel in a stucture if the service disconnect is located outside. Anything inside the service panel is fair game, anything past it is off limits unless the homeowner is paying the inspector to look at the entire installation.

Your inspector has no authority to require upgrades on any of the items you mentioned.

Tom
_________________________
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

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#563 - 02/09/01 05:02 PM Re: Repair or Installation?
Tom Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1069
Loc: Shinnston, WV USA
?

[This message has been edited by Tom (edited 02-09-2001).]
_________________________
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

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#564 - 02/09/01 10:29 PM Re: Repair or Installation?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
So, is there a 5 foot clearance rule for water heaters? (Please give me the article # if there is...) This would mean the panel or the water heater would have to be moved to a different room, there is no place in the utility room that is 5 ft. away.

Or do I just need to move it over one stud bay to clear the water heater as per working clearances (24" wide x 30" deep and up to ceiling...)

The lack of GFCI's, and other problems aren't really an issue (yet) although I intend to suggest many improvements.

Tom, is the working clearance part considered beyond the authority of Allegheny Power, or were you referring to the lack of GFCI's, etc.?

The inspector only seemed concerned with the water heater/working clearance problem and the other violations mentioned were my own observations thrown in to prove a point...

BTW, the inspector is the only one in this area until I pass the test...

My main concern, not really an issue here, is the situation where an unsafe condition is ignored by the customer due to roadblocks created by the code.

It is my belief that the intention of the code is safety, and when a nitpicky or "minor" violation thwarts safety by financially overwhelming a potential customer to the point of declining the work, then the code has failed.

I want to also point out that I'm not quick to avoid code, I prefer to do things right. But this has been a lesson to me especially if I become an inspector.
_________________________
-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#565 - 02/10/01 06:04 AM Re: Repair or Installation?
Tom Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1069
Loc: Shinnston, WV USA
Unless it is in the plumbing code, there is no reason to keep the water heater 5 feet away. The working space is 30" wide (or width of equipment if wider) & 36" deep measured from the cover. The space does not have to be centered on the equipment.

Moving it over one stud space is probably the solution.

Working clearance at the panel is definitely part of the inspection & I personally enforce this one with no exceptions. We've all had to work on equipment that didn't have adequate space & I am not going to contribute to this particular problem When I get my current roll of film developed, I'll be submitting some working clearance violation pictures.

As for the GFI's, they are not a part of the inspection procedure unless the person hiring the inspector is paying for a whole house inspection. If they are missing, this is probably a "grandfather" issue. I always recommend installation of GFI's because they are relatively cheap for the amount of protection.

When I became an inspector, I promised myself I would not have any of the bad traits of inspectors I've dealt with. You'll never hear me say "the way I want this done" or "the way I do it", you get the drift. I'm sure I have my faults, but this isn't one of them.

Also, if I can't find it in the code book, it's not a violation. I will cite article numbers to electricians, I try to give a plain English explanation to homeowner's.

The flip side of what I say & don't say is that I hate to hear an electrician say "when did they change that?" Sometimes, it was never changed, it was wrong to begin with.

Finally, if it is a small violation, not enough straps on the cable, etc, I'll ask that it be fixed & will pass the intallation with the expectation that it will be taken care of. If I have to turn down an installation, for a major violation, I will write up everything that is not in compliance, including all those little nit-picking details & it all must be fixed before I will pass the job.

Well, thats enough of this screed. Good luck if you decide to take the test. I recommend you get ahold of the study guides.

Tom
_________________________
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

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#566 - 02/10/01 03:55 PM Re: Repair or Installation?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
Geeez I hate it when I do that...

Please note the time of my last post when judging my mistake on the dimensions of working clearances...

My wife was talking to me at the time too...

(excuses...excuses...)

Makes me sound like a friggin first year apprentice...

How embarrassing...
_________________________
-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#567 - 02/10/01 08:39 PM Re: Repair or Installation?
Bill Addiss Offline
Member

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 4196
Loc: NY, USA

'66

How's this for clearance? This was recently installed replacing a big old thing that is still there about 8 feet away. What I find particularly unacceptable is that fact that it did not have to go here! There was enough room for half a dozen of these in the room and there would be no problem with working space clearances. Either this "plumber" was ignorant of the NEC rules, or just didn't care. It's just as bad either way. either way

Bill

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#568 - 02/11/01 07:38 AM Re: Repair or Installation?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
It is my experience that all the other trades really don't give a s--- when it comes to NEC...it is OUR problem...

My question is... who is responsible (financially) for fixing it when the AHJ insists on it being done? I know of very few instances where a water heater, etc. is installed BEFORE a panel.

I just imagine plumbers with evil grins following us around with bad intentions... for that matter, maybe it's best that the plumbers don't know any better...they'd probably intentionally bust even more code just to mess with us...

Do you guys follow me on the timeline here?

1- The panel is one of the first things installed as soon as there is a wall to put it on...

2- Several weeks later when the house is roughed-in and the trim-out has started, then the plumbers install their water heaters...

3- Now, several weeks later after the panel installation, sparky is busting clearance code and really wasn't even involved...

4- Now sparky has to move the panel at his own expense?

Maybe I should find another trade...

Perhaps we should arm our helpers with semi-automatic weapons and have them stand guard until the house is finished...

[This message has been edited by sparky66wv (edited 02-11-2001).]
_________________________
-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

Top
#569 - 02/11/01 08:34 AM Re: Repair or Installation?
sparky Offline
Member

Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5545
I'd gladly send the IAEI the bullets !



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